29 Dec 2002 MichaelCrawford   » (Master)

Accounting

So I decided tonight that I wanted to fix some errors that I have known have been in my QuickBooks records for my business. I knew that a recurring charge had just been charged to my debit card, and I would have been overdrawn if I didn't lend some money to the business. But things are tight so I only lent enough to have a balance of about a dollar, and I wasn't comfortable that my "estimate" of my balance was correct.

I am a rather disorganized kind of guy so I don't have all my bank statements. What I did was print out each month's online banking statement. Then I compared the statements to quickbooks, checking the cleared status in QuickBooks and writing a checkmark on the printout.

In this way I found a couple of transactions that were entered twice in QuickBooks. Voiding the extras increased my balance. I also found a couple of transactions that the bank had recorded but that I had not. Recording them decreased my balance.

I had thought I had only one error, when I actually had four, but they nearly canceled each other.

Finally, comparing the balance reported by my bank in its online banking (Key Bank works great with Mozilla!) and subtracting off the charge that I know will hit my account in a couple days, Key Bank thinks my balance will be $1.13 once that charge comes in.

But QuickBooks thinks my balance is $1.23.

Crap.

I was about ten dollars off, now I'm ten cents off! I'm no good at bookkeeping.

I spent a little time trying out GnuCash a few months ago, and basically liked it. I will probably switch to GnuCash sometime soon. I hate QuickBooks with a passion. I hated it so much from the start I never paid for an upgrade from the version I bought in early 2000 because I felt so burned. I'm really looking forward to GnuCash.

The stable version of GnuCash is not yet ready for business accounting, but I think I can make it work. I just checked www.gnucash.org and it appears that some business features are now available in the development version, so I may try testing it again soon.

I just need to figure out how I can issue a paycheck while accounting for tax withholding. If I can get GnuCash to do that properly, it will have everything I really need.

GnuCash holds particular appeal for me because it can handle accounts in any national currency. That's important for an American married to a Canadian. I really found it a drag to deal with reimbursing out-of-pocket business expenses that were paid in Canadian dollars when I lived in St. John's, as well as handling some paychecks that were issued by wire transfer to my Canadian bank account.

I don't need most of what QuickBooks offers. I actually figure my tax withholding manually in a spreadsheet, because I'm too irate to pay for Intuit's tax table subscription service, seeing how I don't think I should have to pay to get information that the Feds and each state publishes for free. QuickBooks doesn't even provide a method for me to type in the tax tables manually or import a file I get from elsewhere.

I get a much better understanding of where my money is going by using a spreadsheet to figure my withholding anyway. At least QuickBooks is kind enough to let me enter the withholding manually when I issue each check. That's manageable for a corporation with one employee.

Intuit stopped supporting online banking for QuickBooks '99 earlier this year. The only option they provided was to pay for an upgrade. I canceled my QuickBooks online banking and now I just use Key Bank's free web banking.

I think Intuit along with its products QuickBooks and Quicken is the best argument there is for Free Software. While they may not be a criminal monopoly like Microsoft, Intuit does more to personally irritate me, and on an almost daily basis, than Microsoft ever has.

QuickBooks will automatically print certain tax forms like the employer's quarterly payroll tax withholding statement, but I find that it's better to keep a summary of my payroll in one page of a spreadsheet and then just copy the figures into the form each quarter. This also gives me a good overview of my company's payroll (and my income) over the whole year.

By March 15th I have to file my corporation's annual tax form, and pay taxes on any profit it may have made (which it won't have, because I pay myself in salary everything I don't spend on business expenses). That ten cent error will be a problem - I don't want to deal with the IRS inquiring about a ten cent error in my tax statement.

So what I'm going to do is find all the bank statements that I can, then get Key Bank to reprint all the ones that are missing. That will cost considerably more than ten cents. But at least my books will balance.

GnuCash, here I come!

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